Steven Gerrard wasn’t left much upon taking over at Rangers two summers ago, but he was left Alfredo Morelos.
The Colombian was signed by Pedro Caixinha, the Portuguese flop who ultimately became something of a punchline during his time in Scotland, but it’s under the former England and Liverpool midfielder that Morelos has flourished.
Indeed, the 23-year-old has netted 54 times over the past season-and-a-half for Rangers. Last season, Morelos’ one flaw - and it was a big one - was his temperament. The striker was sent off no fewer than five times over the 2018/19 campaign, but the rage has been extinguished since the summer. Gerrard now has a fully focused goalscorer firing his team to the top.
Something feels different at Ibrox now. Gerrard has forged a side seemingly capable of handling the pressure that comes with a sustained title challenge, with Rangers currently tied with Celtic on 34 points at the top of the Scottish Premiership table. They have lost just once in the league so far this season and that was to Celtic. Morelos has been a big factor behind their rise.
But it’s not just domestically that Morelos has made a real impression. In fact, the Colombian has found his best form in Europe, scoring big goals in big games against Midtjylland, Young Boys, Feyenoord and Porto, home and away. At times he has been unstoppable and his Europa League performances hint that he could make another step up.
Alfredo Morelos scores in his fourth straight European match to bring Rangers level ð
Absolute pings from Steven Davis and Ryan Kent in the build-up ð
It’s little wonder that Morelos has subsequently been linked with a January move to the Premier League. Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are both believed to be monitoring the Colombian. Gerrard has more than once admitted that he is braced for interest in his top scorer and prize asset once the transfer window opens again, although he remains bullish on keeping him. “I’m not confident - I’m 100% sure he’s not going anywhere,” Gerrard said just a few weeks ago.
Morelos is custom-built for the rough and tumble of the Premier League. With good service, he would thrive. Even without good service, the Colombian would still stand a good chance of success given the improvement in other areas of his game over the past couple seasons. He is more more than just the penalty box poacher many have him typecast as.
Of course, there is still plenty for Morelos to achieve at Rangers before he moves on. The Ibrox club are in the midst of their first title race in years. The loss of their top scorer midway through the campaign would be catastrophic their short term ambitions.
Rangers’ European hopes would also be hit by Morelos’ exit, illustrating his importance. Hailing from the country that also produced Radamel Falcao, Carlos Bacca and Jackson Martinez, Morelos is Colombia’s, and maybe the Premier League’s, next great striker.